Kittanning seniors shoot for section titles
Anyone curious about how the looming finality of a seemingly incomplete high school career stirs a senior wrestler might want to ask Kittanning's Taylor Jack or Christian Emminger.
The two Wildcats enter the individual postseason in search of titles, something that has eluded each in their varsity careers. And both believe they're as prepared as ever to claim their prizes.
Jack, Emminger and the rest of the Kittanning team will compete in the Section 3-AA tournament Saturday at Avonworth.
West Shamokin's wrestlers also will participate. The top five placewinners in each weight class advance to the WPIAL Class AA tournament, which begins Friday at Chartiers Valley.
After a regular season in which he went 27-8, Jack earned the top seed in the section's 152-pound weight class. A season ago, he lost to Burrell's Corey Falleroni, 2-1, in the 145-pound finals. And as a sophomore, he took third at 145.
Another run-in with Falleroni, the No. 2 seed at 152, likely looms for Jack, who is 1-1 against his Burrell rival this season.
“I feel pretty good about it,” said Jack, who claimed the rematch, 7-5, Jan. 23 after Falleroni won, 6-5, Dec. 12. “The past couple times, I wrestled his match and not mine. But the last time, I took more shots. … I never take as many shots as I should against him.”
As one of Kittanning's several light middleweights, Emminger moved around the lineup during the regular season, wrestling as heavy as 145 or as light as 126, so he never had the chance to familiarize himself with a particular weight class.
No longer needed for dual meet purposes, he'll stick with 126 for the postseason.
Emminger (18-11) earned the No. 3 seed in the section tournament. A first-round win might match him up with the No. 2 seed, Valley junior Pat Dewitt (27-7), the defending WPIAL champ at 106. And the top spot in the class belongs to Burrell freshman Damon Greenwald (21-10).
After second-place finishes as a junior and a freshman, Emminger has his eyes on nothing less than gold — and his mind on his father, George, who is recovering from heart surgery at Butler Memorial Hospital and will miss Saturday's tournament.
“It'd mean a lot for me to win it,” Emminger said. “I saw my dad (Friday), and the way he looked just gave me that drive. I want to win it for him.”
Kittanning senior Derek Bowser (12-14) is the No. 5 seed at 132 pounds, and classmate Zac Croyle (19-9), a returning section champion, is No. 1 at 195.
“I could be doing better,” said Croyle, who won at 170 last season. “I've just got to get my takedowns. I'm more about takedowns, and I'm good on bottom, but I'm not very good on top.”
Croyle of one of Kittanning's two returning champions. The other is junior Jason Nolf (32-0), a two-time title-winner who is the top seed at 132 this season.
Four wrestlers from West Shamokin, including two medalists, will compete Saturday. Sophomore Brian Brown (14-7), a runner-up at 160 last season, is the No. 3 seed at 145. Sophomore Brenden Glover (22-8), who took fourth at 152 last season, is the No. 3 seed at 160.